Air Peace incident: Stranded passengers reschedule flights as FAAN reopens Ilorin Airport

kayode Oyero and Tunde Oyekola

Reprieve came the way of airline operators and passengers on Saturday evening as an Air Peace plane, which lost one of its tyres at the Ilorin International Airport, was evacuated from the runway of the airport.

Arik Air, Overland Airways and charter airlines had cancelled their flights to the Ilorin airport on Friday and Saturday, following the closure of the facility by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria after an Air Peace plane landed at the airport and lost one of its tyres on the runway.

Sixty-six passengers and six crew members onboard the Air Peace aircraft from Abuja were said to have “disembarked safely” when one of the plane’s tyres blew off on landing at the Ilorin airport.

It was gathered that the incident happened on Friday at 10:30am while the B737-500 aircraft with registration number 5N-BQR was taxiing to the parking bay.

No one was reportedly injured during the incident and no life was lost.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the aviation industry regulators, and the Accident Investigation Bureau, the agency that investigates air accidents, confirmed the incident.

They, however, said it was not a major incident or accident.

However, findings by revealed that several passengers billed to fly out of the airport and into the airport were stranded due the airport closure.

Arik Air, Overland Airways and Air Peace passengers became stranded after the carriers cancelled their flights.

FAAN was forced to close the airport because it was reported that the ground handling company meant to tow the Air Peace grounded plane from the airport runway lacked the equipment to do so.

As such, Air Peace was forced to bring in a new set of tyres from Lagos to Ilorin to replace the burst tyres on the runway on Saturday.

The plane was later removed after the replacement.

The NCAA spokesperson, Mr Sam Adurogboye, however, said the aircraft would go through recertification before being released to fly again.

A source at the Ilorin airport said many stranded passengers had started rebooking their flights after the airport was reopened.

“With this development, flight operations in and out of Ilorin can now commence in earnest,” an official of the airport who pleaded anonymity told .

He described as untrue claim of plane crash in Ilorin.

“There was no plane crash at Ilorin International Airport,” he said in a reply to an inquiry.

It was gathered that the process of moving the plane from the runway was slow because, according to a source, “it is a big aircraft and we have no equipment to effect quick evacuation.”

In a follow-up statement, Air Peace also debunked reports (not by ) that its plane crashed at the airport.

“Our aircraft neither crashed nor crash-landed in Ilorin or in any place for that matter,” the statement partly read, adding that “Air Peace is committed to providing peaceful connectivity across cities and relentlessly observing the highest standards of safety in its operations.”